Tuesday, January 3, 2017

How to make an Animal Lover's Happiness Jar

I do love Liz Gilbert. 

I love her honesty and the down to earth vibe she exudes. I also think she’s wise, and heavens knows, we need wise woman to follow right here, right now. 

I love the fact that as a bestselling author, she’s approachable and friendly. 

Mostly I love her good, simple advice. 

Last year I read her post on creating a Happiness Jar. The idea being, that you scribble a note about the happiest moment of your day and pop it in a jar, where your collection of happy notes grows though the year. At the end of it, you tip out the contents and read a year’s worth of happy memories. 

I loved the idea. So I found a jar and some post-its and added a new happy memory every day.

It only lasted until February.

When I opened the jar and read some of those notes, it brought back the memories of how I felt a year ago. 

My Joe dog was sick. I knew he was dying. We were having a hot, dry summer in Johannesburg, it hadn’t rained in weeks and the heat was making me as cranky as hell. I wasn’t having a fun time. As 2016 (not surprising it wasn’t a great year, right) got underway, the idea of feeling happy, or capturing happy moments that I wasn’t really feeling, started to feel like a burden. I was irritated that I couldn’t feel happy, no matter how hard I tried.

The under tow of grief had already begun and I knew that at some point Joe was going to leave his body and I wasn’t ready for that. 

The point of this post is not to speak you out of creating a Happiness Jar, but to encourage you to get cracking on yours now.

Here’s why.

Joe died on the Easter weekend and I spent the rest of the year sliding down the slippery slope of sadness and depression. I finally had a turning point in November and felt like I could let him go, along with the tired, heavy grief.

So when I tipped out my Happiness Jar notes, the one that made me burst into tears, read:

4 January
Watching Joe run down the driveway towards me. 
I love that dog SO MUCH!

Two lines. Some words. Strung together on a small piece of paper. 

It was my happiest memory in eight weeks worth of notes. 

You see, I’d blanketed the entire year in gloom and sadness. I didn’t expect that sudden spark of happiness attached to a memory of him, especially one that wasn’t sad. 

Although the note is short and doesn’t detail anything else around that moment, I can see him in my mind’s eye, how his ears flapped along with each joy-filled bound. Because he only ever bounded along, joyfully. I can see his usual expression, his smile, while he exuded his pure dog happiness. 

And while that memory made me cry for a good half-hour, I was also flooded with happiness when I read it. It was like his essence was captured on that small piece of paper. 

That is the single reason why I think we should all keep a Happiness Jar.

Because we forget the small things. I remember the time Joe ate my Flower Essences for Animals book, the strap off my riding hat and chewed the side of my riding boot. His teeth marks are still visible, eight years later. I remember how he ran towards me with a rotting fish in this mouth! You can read that here. There are a ton of other memories, but it’s those small, insignificant moments from everyday life that we’ll want to hang on to and remember. 

 Make your Happiness Jar now, you’ll be glad you did!

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